After the Twin Towers suddenly collapsed on September 11, many ordinary New Yorkers suddenly became victims. Many people suffered trauma injuries. The attacks killed thousands and wounded many, many others. Others fell victim to the toxic dust which blanketed much of Lower Manhattan on that day.
Already, more than 80,000 people have received benefits under the Zadroga Act. That may only be the beginning. The long-term effects are yet to come. For example, lung diseases and other such illnesses may not appear for years, or even longer, after exposure to toxic dust.
The attorneys at Napoli Law are determined to keep the Zadroga Act available for these victims. Not only that, our attorneys will fight for the compensation you deserve.
What Benefits Can I Receive?
In many class action lawsuits, every victim gets a set amount of money regardless of the individual circumstances.
But that’s not how the Zadroga Act works, even though it could potentially cover hundreds of thousands of people. Instead, the 9/11 victim fund is more like workers’ compensation. Both 9/11 victims and job injury victims were hurt through no fault of their own. So, both the Zadroga Act and workers’ compensation provide benefits on a case-by-case basis. Some factors include:
- The extent of illness or injury,
- Prognosis for recovery, and
- The amount of lost wages.
Many 9/11 victims were highly-compensated Wall Street workers. A few thousand dollars cannot possibly replace the income that these families lost. Other 9/11 victims lost their lives. Again, a few thousand dollars cannot possibly compensate for such a loss.
If My Loved One Passed Away, Can I Still File a Claim?
This question is also very understandable. In many injury cases, the claim is personal to the actual victim. Surviving family members may only be entitled to limited compensation, if any.
But, once again, the Zadroga Act does not work this way. Because of the unique nature of the 9/11 attacks, the injury compensation system is also rather unique. Surviving family members stand in the shoes of deceased victims. It does not matter if they died because of a trauma injury on that day or due to a diseased they contracted by being near Ground Zero.
It may not even matter if the victim had a pre-existing or exacerbating conditions which contributed to the untimely death. In many cases, these individuals are still eligible for full benefits.
Who Is Eligible for Benefits?
There is some misinformation here as well. Victims do not need to be residents of New York. They must only establish that they were in the Exposure Zone between September 11, 2001, and May 30, 2002. Evidence of presence includes things like paystubs, credit card receipts, and witness statements. It only takes one breath to inhale toxic fumes. So, just one day, or even one hour, in the Exposure Zone is sufficient.
On a related note, the Zadroga Act is not limited to emergency responders. Injury compensation is available under this law to victims from all walks of life.
Furthermore, the Exposure Zone is significantly broader than it was before. Originally, only people within the immediate Ground Zero radius could file Zadroga Act claims. But lawmakers soon expanded the Zone to include most of Lower Manhattan. If you have a 9/11-related illness but you were not in the Exposure Zone, another legal remedy may be available.
All victims must also establish a connection between the illness or injury and the 9/11 terrorist attack.
What is the Deadline for Filing a Claim?
The initial claims deadline of October 2013 passed a long time ago. But substantial compensation is still available.
People obviously cannot file claims for injuries they do not know they have. As mentioned earlier, many 9/11 victims may have serious lung and other diseases yet not know they are sick. That’s where concepts like the discovery rule come into play. Under this doctrine, the claims deadline is subject to change. It does not pass until after the individual knows the full extent of illness and has a reason to connect that illness to a specific event. In this case, that event is the 9/11 attack.
Currently, the Zadroga Act is scheduled to close in 2020. That final deadline is coming up quickly, and the discovery rule may no longer apply. So, if you think you may have a 9/11 injury, it’s very important to reach out to an attorney straightaway.
At Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, our experienced New York personal injury attorneys routinely handle all kinds of mass tort cases. We have offices in nine states.